Last month, much of the state was under a winter storm warning, with some areas getting a foot or more of snow. As we get further into winter, the snow fall will continue, as will the challenges that come with it. Please take some time to read some friendly reminders to help protect yourself as we move further into winter.
It is important to review the ordinances where you live, and even rules that your homeowners’ association, or rental agreement may include as it relates to snow removal. While no one wants to get up extra early to shovel or snow blow their property, that is often required within a certain time of when snow has fallen. This is for overall public safety reasons. Think about the elementary aged kids who may walk past your home to get to school, or the postal workers who have to walk door to door to deliver our mail. Trudging through 4 inches of snow is frustrating to say the least, but then add a risk of slipping on top of that, and it’s a big deal. To protect our communities, municipalities have their own ordinances regarding snow removal. Keep in mind, most places require that snow and ice be removed for the entire width of the sidewalk, not just the width of one shovel. There is not enough space to go through each area specifically, but here are the requirements for a couple of areas:
City of Waukesha: Waukesha City Ordinance 6.12 requires owners or occupants of a dwelling or building to clean the sidewalk of snow and ice within 12 hours after the snow has ceased to fall. The ordinance also requires owners or occupants to keep the sidewalk free of snow to prevent an accumulation of ice.
If the city is notified of a violation of this ordinance, they will let the property owner know and give them a period of time to resolve the violation. If the violation is not resolved, the owner could receive a municipal citation for the violation, along with a bill for the snow removal.
City of Green Bay: City Ordinance 34-14, requires that whoever is in charge of real estate must have snow and ice removed within 24 hours after snow has fallen. If snow and ice are not removed and the city removes the snow/ice, the owner will be charged the actual cost of the work and may receive a citation with a fine of up to $500 for second and subsequent incidents.
City of Appleton: The city ordinance provides homeowners 36 hours from the end of a storm to have sidewalks cleared of snow and ice. If the city is notified of a violation, the City’s contractor will remove the snow and the owner is billed for their time.
Please keep in mind that nearly all municipalities prohibit homeowners from moving snow from the sidewalk onto a public right of way or property. This is generally to stop people from shoveling snow into the streets, causing more of a safety concern for drivers. Please review the ordinances for the municipality where you reside to understand your specific requirements.
If you do receive a citation for not removing snow in the required time period, or removing snow onto a public right of way, you should follow the instructions on the citation received. You may just pay the fine, or you may contest it with the possibility of having the fine decreased.
If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, you may have additional rules that you are subject to regarding snow and ice removal. Please review the specific rules of your HOA to make sure that you are abiding by the same, and avoiding any unnecessary penalties.
If you drive on a highway you likely see the billboards reminding you of “possible icy conditions” and to “slow down.” While some highways have more catchy sayings on their signs, the meaning is all the same. Drive safely, especially in icy conditions. No one wants to be involved in an accident, ever, but especially not in 4 degree weather with 20 mph winds and no daylight after 5pm. When these weather conditions exist, remember to slow down and leave extra space in between you and the vehicle in front of you.
If you do get into an accident, call the police. They will do an investigation, and likely issue citations to those involved. Driving too fast for dangerous road/weather conditions is a common ticket this time of year. Even if you are driving under the set speed limit, you could receive this citation and it typically comes with 4 demerit points on your license. This citation does not even consider damage to the vehicles involved, or potential injury to you or other drivers/passengers. This opens up a completely new host of problems with mechanics, insurance, medical bills, etc. Do your best to mitigate these potential damages by slowing down, pumping your breaks, and paying attention to the road and other drivers.
McLario, Helm, Bertling & Spiegel, S.C.
N88 W16783 Main St.
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051-2890
Tel: (262) 251-4210